Art in Lockdown
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
I had a number of exhibitions planned for 2020. These have, understandably, been cancelled, which has given me the impetus to launch my website as a virtual location to launch the collections I have been working on for these exhibitions.
Lockdown has been a hard time for many of us, I'm sure. Even though life has changed far less for me than it has for many people — I didn't have a paid job outside the house before lockdown — I have still found it mentally and emotionally challenging. Having our children at home all the time, and learning how to home-school them also made it harder to find time to create. In the first couple of weeks of lockdown I lost my motivation and any urge to paint. In the past I have used art to help me through difficult times, but on this occasion, I struggled to find my creativity.
I have missed meeting up with other artists. Before lockdown, I had been taking part in the Living from Art exhibition with some other local artists at the Sober Parrot, a wonderful café in Cheltenham. It was great to meet up with them there regularly, to share creative ideas and to eat delicious cake in like-minded company. All of this ended when we went into lockdown.
I then saw a prompt by printmaking suppliers Handprinted in their Facebook group Handprinted Collective. For their April competition they were looking for prints on the Theme of Be Kind. Our situation of social distancing and isolation made me think of us as families living within the individual cells of a beehive, together but separate. The wonderful key workers and volunteers are still out there, demonstrating wonderful kindness and bravery. I found the meditative process of cutting and printing a reduction linocut over a couple of weeks very calming, and it helped to restore my creativity.
I also struggled with the idea of trying to sell art at a time like this. With so many people facing great loss and hardship during this pandemic, I worried that it was frivolous to try to sell art. However, art and culture are some of the things that make us human, and looking at art can bring solace to people even if they are not going to purchase it.
Many artists having been painting free portraits of NHS workers during the pandemic. In an initiative started by portrait painter Thomas Croft, artists were offering their services using the hashtag portraitsfornhsheroes to advertise their availability to create a portrait for an NHS worker. I am certainly no portraitist, so I didn't offer my services for this initiative. However, I did enjoy seeing that wonderful art that was created, documenting this strange time. Having been quite ill myself for several weeks, I was motivated to create a small pen and watercolour sketch of one of my own NHS heroes — my friend Gail, who works as an oncology nurse at Cheltenham General. My small tribute to these wonderful frontline workers.